Jan. 13, 2013
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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Q: What kind of lift does it give a team when Alex makes a shot like that?
A: It was a huge adrenaline rush for the team. Alex and Maggie play around after practice everyday shooting half-court shots or what not. So, it was a big lift for us going into halftime.
Q: What changed to go on that run in the last four minutes that was capped off by Alex's half court shot?
A: I think our defense got a lot better. In the media timeout, we talked about locking down the last three and a half minutes. I think it was about 3:38 left on the clock. I think we did that. We made them take some tough shots and were able to rebound to get going in transition.
Q: Can you talk about the defensive job the team did in this ballgame?
A: Nebraska has great players, great offensive players. Coach Yori does a great job both getting them good looks and getting the ball space. We talked about before coming in the game that it was going to be a team effort. It wasn't going to be one or two people having to defend them. I thought that our rotations were pretty good. We wanted to make sure that they took tough shots. I though Lindsey Moore got loose and missed a couple of open shots that she normally makes. Overall, I thought we did a good job making them take tough shots and a pretty good job defensively.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about Ariel Edwards' impact on today's game?
A: She was big today. We know that teams are going to key on certainly Maggie and Alex. But, we like to think that we have a lot of weapons. We talk to our team all the time about being ready for your time. I think Ariel came in and was really aggressive from the beginning of the game. She attacked the basket and attacked the paint. She hit her jumpers when she was open. She had a very aggressive, assertive mentality and that's what we need.
Q: Can you talk more about the role of the defense?
A: I am really happy with our defense. We have a lot of teams that have offensive firepower in our conference, and Nebraska is one of them. If we want to continue to be a team that is reckoned with then it is going to come from the defensive end, not the offensive. We just want to continue to get better. We want to dictate the games on the defensive side. Offense can come and go. You can get shots and sometimes they go in and sometimes they don't. But defense can be a constant. We want to be a great offensive team, obviously, but we don't want to be a team that just relies on outscoring people. We want to shut people down. That was key for us.
Q: Can you talk about Maggie reaching the milestone of 1500 points?
A: She did that today? Great job Maggie. Maggie is a great scorer. She works so hard and she takes advantage of her opportunities when she gets them. When you have a back court of Maggie and Alex, who are both capable and have 1500 points, it is just a luxury as a head coach to have two people who can do that.
Q: Maggie and Alex's last five minutes really let their intensity show that seemed to rub off onto the other teammates. How big is it to have those players?
A: They are certainly our leaders on the floor. Their intensity and their competitiveness, as well as their will to win rubs off onto the team. The team follows their lead, follows their mentality. There is not one minute on the floor when those two aren't intense. They take their competitiveness to a higher level. Again, it just a wonderful luxury as a coaching staff to have those two intangibles on the court.
Q: Nebraska had 19 turnovers, 13 were steals from Penn State. What do you think your team did well defensively to get so many steals?
A: Our team has really quick hands. They like to get in there and play intense. They try to execute the defensive schemes and the defensive game playing. When they are doing that opportunities seem to come their way and they do a great job taking advantage.
Q: You guys were able to force 13 turnovers and converting them into 23 points. How important is it to be able to convert on those opportunities?
A: When you get easy opportunities you need to take advantage of it. Our defense is pretty good and I think Nebraska is a good defensive team. So when advantages come, easy looks where you can attack the basket or get to the free throw line you got to take those and make them work for you. It seems like we did that tonight.
Q: What is the status of Candice after that injury?
A: She has an ankle sprain. She will be evaluated in the morning to see how significant a sprain it is. As of right now though all we know is that it is an ankle sprain.
Q: It seemed to be a real physical game. Is that something you expected going into the game?
A: We have a couple of players that do not mind the physical side of the game. They wouldn't mind having on helmets and headgear and let is get even more physical. We don't mind physical play. We want to be a team that can play a variety of styles. Whether it is a finesse game or a physical game, we will take it and battle through. We just want to play basketball and compete. At the end of the game, we have given our best effort to win.
Q: Alex, you got to walk us through the shot at the buzzer.
A: We were talking about finishing the half strong, and that's all I was focusing on. They had a chance to get a score, so we obviously wanted to get a stop. I got the ball and pushed it up and saw the shot clock and threw it...shot it.
Q: How often do you practice that kind of stuff?
A: Not at all. Maggie Lucas does. I learn from her.
Q: Alex, how big was it for you guys to turn some of those turnovers into quick points against these guys today?
A: It was very important but that's what we want to do. That's our strength. We play great defense and we run. We like to run. That was one of the focal points of Coquese's game plan so we just stuck to it.
Q: Alex, do you feel like you guys built from the Michigan State game?
A: Yeah, definitely. I think our team defense was really good tonight. We're going on two games where we've been playing great team defense and it's been our focus since the beginning of the season so it's going to continue to be our focus and we're going to keep getting better every day in practice.
Q: Alex, Arielle, how much does that shot give a team a boost in the second half?
A: It's a great energy giver, as Fred would say. It's great to go into the half up 13, it makes you feel good, it gives you confidence going into the second half and we appreciate that shot.
Q: Dara, can you talk a little bit about the defense that you guys turned up when you made a run at the end of the first half?
A: I think we wanted to focus on kind of picking the energy up, get going a little bit, we were playing a little stagnant and we locked it in on defense and kind of turned our defense into offense and it really kind of sparked us.
Q: Dara, what is it like for you playing next to Alex and Maggie? Obviously, they bring a lot of intensity; it showed at the end of the half. What does that kind of do for you guys and how do you feed off of that?
A: They're great. They're obviously the emotional leaders on this team. When things are going good or bad, you can lean on them to give us a spark, give us energy and our team really feeds off of it. Once they get going, the rest of us pick up, feed off of it, and it's really great.
Q: Ariel, can you tell me how comfortable you are feeling coming off of the bench and what you're able to bring when you come off the bench in some of these ball games?
A: The thing about being on the bench is that it gives you the opportunity to get any nervousness you might have out. You get to survey the game before you get in there and see where you can attack and see what you need to do so I think it's definitely beneficial to me and I've been able to capitalize off of that.
Q: Overall, can you talk about the defensive effort today and can you talk about how happy you were with this team defensively?
A: I think that we are all excited about our growth on the defensive end from last year to this year. Dara is great on the ball, defender. Alex is great; they get so many steals together. I think we are just really excited and if we continue to do this, we're going to have a great year.
Q: Ariel, I know you played post in high school. Are you comfortable now playing this different position?
A: I think I'm getting there. I mean, there are some things that I still struggle with but I try to work on my weaknesses, my ball handling, my shooting...anything that a guard would do.
Nebraska Head Coach Connie Yori
There's a reason why Penn State is a top ten team. I think Coquese has done a great job putting this program together and they have good players in every position. They've got depth, particularly in the post and their guard play really hurt us today. And Alex Bentley, was Alex Bentley, there's a reason why she was the preseason player of the year. And I just want to make sure this is confirmed on your part that I did vote for her for preseason player of the year. I think overall, they played very well, and we can't turn it over like that and you can't turn it over like that against anyone but in particular a team that can turn those turnovers into transitions, so credit to them for playing well.
Q: Where did it feel like it got away from you in the first half?
A: That last two minutes. At one point we had the score within six and then it was 29-23, and they get a steal, I think that was Taylor's steal that led to free throws, and then that last play of the half was huge. We had a chance to go from ten to eight or ten to seven, and they steal it and the three at half court by Bentley was, it wasn't a dagger but it gave them a lot of momentum.
Q: What is it about Maggie (Lucas) and Alex (Bentley), particularly on defense that makes them so difficult to play against when they're forcing those steals and getting those transitions?
A: They have good hands, that's where those steals come from.
Q: Can you talk about (Jordan) Hooper and (Lindsey) Moore's day, they struggled a little bit in the field?
A: Yeah, both of them did. I thought Lindsey had some pretty good looks, she probably took a couple quick threes in transition, but she is also capable of making those. Jordan had some really good shots too, and she gets guarded probably as well as anyone in this league, there is always someone on her, but I think she had some open looks that she didn't make.
Q: It's been almost a year since you played Penn State, have you seen any changes in Maggie Lucas?
A: I think her defense has improved, she is more capable of putting the ball on the floor and she is still as good a shooter, it looks like she has grown in those areas.
Q: What has (Dara) Taylor brought to this team, especially on the defensive side of the ball?
A: Well it's pretty obvious, she took the ball from us today, but she gives them the opportunity for Alex not having to guard the point guard, and they had that a little bit last year. I think when they have to opportunity to play the two on defense, in Alex's case, buy Taylor is a really good athlete, she's really quick and she can turn those turnovers into points.